Some of the first round action at the 2021 WTA Lyon will see Irina Bara take on Stefanie Voegele and Paula Badosa play Harmony Tan on the opening couple of days of the tournament. Get the live streaming options along the predictions, preview and head to head for these matches along with Arantxa Rus v Wang Xiyu and Greet Minnen v Katarzyna Kawa.
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Irina Bara v Stefanie Voegele Preview
In what will be their second meeting on the tour, two players ranked in their 120s, Bara and Voegele will face off in a first round match in Lyon. Their first match had come in the qualifiers of the 2018 Shenzhen Open in which Voegele had won in straight sets.
Incidentally, the duo had also faced off in a German league tennis tournament in 2019 and that clay court match had also gone Voegele’s way.
Voegele is yet to play in the main draw of a WTA competition this season so far, having lost in the first round of the Australian Open qualifiers. She then featured in an ITF tournament indoors where she scraped through the first round before losing in the second.
Bara’s start to the season has not been too much better. Like her opponent, she also fell in the first round of the qualifiers for the Australian Open but then she shifted focus to the UTR Pro Tennis Series 4 which was played in Spain on clay.
There she won all her six matches but to now shift to the indoor hard courts of Lyon would be that much tougher for her.
Expecting Voegele to edge this one.
Bara v Voegele Tip
Voegele to win: 2/5 (Sign up here with bet365 to get excellent odds!)
Paula Badosa v Harmony Tan Preview
World number 73 will be facing the 188th-ranked Frenchwoman Harmony Tan in their first round of this Lyon Open competition, in what would also be their first meeting at the WTA level. That said, they have already met twice on the ITF circuit, in 2017 and 2018 and on both occasions, Badosa came through rather easily.
Badosa began her season with a sound showing at the Abu Dhabi Open in January, beating Anastasija Sevastov and Alize Cornet in the first two rounds there. In both those matches, Badosa had gone in a second favourite only to upset her better-fancied opponents.
It was the eventual finalist Veronika Kudermetova who usurped her in round three but one would have thought that confidence would have helped her in Melbourne. Having not played in any tune-up tournaments in the week before the Australian Open, however, did not prove to be too beneficial and she fell in three fighting sets to Ludmilla Samsonova in the first round there.
Tan, on the other hand, tried her hands at the qualifiers and even made the third round but her failure to qualify for the Australian Open meant she has been playing at the ITF level.
The Frenchwoman won a title at the Andrezieux-Boutheon ITF tournament but lost her opener at the Grenoble event. She will have her work cut out against a player raring to break into the top 50 this season.
Badosa v Tan Tip:
Badosa to win: 5/6 (Sign up here with bet365 to get excellent odds!)
Arantxa Rus v Wang Xiyu Preview
World number 78 should ideally start out as a favourite against the 126th-ranked Chinese player Wang Xiyu when they face off in their opener in Lyon. However, what might be far from ideal, for Rus, is they played as recently at the Abu Dhabi Open and she lost to Xiyu in a tough three-setter.
Making things worse for the 30-year-old Dutchwoman is she has struggled to get going in 2021. That loss to Xiyu came in what was her first match of the season was followed by two more defeats, pummelling ones at that and she enters this competition 0-3 as a result.
What can be considered as slightly mitigating factors are those last two defeats came against Venus Williams and Iga Swiatek, two very high quality players. Back playing someone outside the top-100 might give Rus that chance to get back to her best.
The question is whether that best would be enough to toppled Xiyu who herself has just one win this year – against Rus obviously. Other than that, she lost in the second round in Abu Dhabi and then failed to proceed beyond the opening round of the Altenkirchen ITF competition earlier this month.
In a battle of two struggling players, it might be the experience of Rus which has the edge.
Rus v Wang Tip:
Rus to win: 1/2 (Sign up here with bet365 to get excellent odds!)
Greet Minnen v Katarzyna Kawa Preview
Interesting how many similarly-ranked players are facing off in the first round because both Minnen and Kawa are in their 110s on the WTA charts. And they meet in their opening round match in Lyon.
This will also be the first time they play each other on the WTA circuit, having earlier played thrice in ITF tournaments and Minnen won all three times. Their most recent one, at the ITF Tyler competition, came last year, on hard courts, and it went to three sets.
What tilts this into Minnen’s favour is she has already played in four WTA tournaments before this, including the Australian Open qualifiers and the Australian Open main.
She won all her three rounds to make it to the main draw and while she lost to Petra Kvitova in the opener, she also registered a win apiece at the Yarra Valley Classic and Phillip Island Trophy in the other Melbourne tournaments.
As compared to that, Kawa’s only match this season came in the first qualifying round of the Australian Open and she lost it in straight sets.
Minnen v Kawa Tip:
Minnen to win in straight sets: 4/6 (Sign up here with bet365 to get excellent odds!)